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Can Cell Phones Save the Music Business?

Will mobile music save the music industry or will they find some way to stop it? The article makes the case that ringtones are becoming the new singles market…”Looking to build buzz around hip-hop artist Cassidy, Sony BMG shunned CD singles and MTV sneak previews. Instead, the label chose a track called “I’m a Hustla” from Cassidy’s new album and turned it into a 25-second sample that could be downloaded as a ringtone…
The $2.49 song clip, known as a mastertone, was an instant hit. In four months it was downloaded half a million times. By the time the album finally debuted in June — at No. 5 on the Billboard chart — the ringtone had gone platinum. “The ringtone market is the singles market of our time,” says Thomas Hesse, president of Sony BMG’s global digital-music division.”
Of course, the record industry’s euphoria is based on the assumption that ringtone prices will stay as high as they are now and that they will be able to charge even more for full-track songs on mobiles.
Mind you, there is evidence in the article of realism. “We think that, for some people, the phone will eventually replace the MP3 player,” says Thomas Ryan, a senior VP at EMI. That comment is a lot more sensible than the idea that mobiles will destroy the MP3 player market, although I think the biggest mobile music market will be in people who wouldn’t buy an MP3 player anyway.
And I liked this comment…
“As soon as full song downloads take off in a few years, mastertone prices will likely drop. Thomas Dolby Robertson, a former pop star who founded Retro Ringtones, thinks the clips will eventually be free. “We’re sort of like drug dealers, using ringtones to get people hooked on digital music,” Robertson says. (via Ringtonia)
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